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Discrimination, Ethnic Identity, and Academic Outcomes of Mexican Immigrant Children: The Importance of School Context


  • The research was fully supported by a grant to the first author from the Foundation for Child Development as part of the Young Scholars Program. The authors are grateful to Annette Chin and George McCormick, and the principals, teachers, children, and parents of Central Kentucky. Also, the authors especially thank Heather Young and Ryan Hicks, as well as James Coleman, Lauren Jellison, Donnie Kleine-Kracht, Leigh Anne Koonmen, Nichaela Matthews, Sarah Roby, P. J. Williamson, and Lauren Zumbahlen.

concerning this article should be addressed to Christia Spears Brown, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, 215 Kastle Hall, Lexington, KY 40506. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined ethnic identity, perceptions of discrimination, and academic attitudes and performance of primarily first- and second-generation Mexican immigrant children living in a predominantly White community (= 204, 19 schools, mean age = 9 years). The study also examined schools’ promotion of multiculturalism and teachers’ attitudes about the value of diversity in predicting immigrant youth’s attitudes and experiences. Results indicated that Latino immigrant children in this White community held positive and important ethnic identities and perceived low overall rates of discrimination. As expected, however, school and teacher characteristics were important in predicting children’s perceptions of discrimination and ethnic identity, and moderated whether perceptions of discrimination and ethnic identity were related to attitudes about school and academic performance.